Thousands face loss of homes in quake devastated Christchurch: PM

17:36, June 14, 2011      

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Thousands of people in New Zealand's second city of Christchurch will have to abandon their quake-destroyed homes, Prime Minister John Key confirmed Tuesday, but he refused to identify specific areas or a timeframe.

Key arrived in Christchurch Tuesday to meet Mayor Bob Parker, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority chief Roger Sutton to assess the situation in the devastated city, a day after a new series of tremors caused fresh damage and left one person dead.

The government had a "reasonably clear picture" about the areas of land that would not be rebuilt on, but it was "extremely important to get it right," Key told reporters.

"Although the footprint of damage is very similar to the February earthquake, there has been further damage to land in some areas ... and further subsidence."

The New Zealand Press Association (NZPA) reported that Key said he understood homeowners' frustration and wanted to be able to " communicate with homeowners to give clarity -- it is not only the land but what happens next."

He asked owners to be patient as officials worked to provide clarity and simplicity to the financial payments, as large numbers of individual insurance contracts had to be taken into account.

He said they did not want to rush the process and jeopardize a proper outcome, according to the NZPA report.

New Zealand was fortunate to have high levels of insurance and re-insurance, giving "a high level of security for homeowners," said Key.

Although Monday's quake had a "big impact on morale and there was some economic impact," for the most part it hit already damaged areas, so the business community was largely unaffected.

Brownlee said at least 75 buildings in the central business district that survived the Feb. 22 quake, which killed at least 181 people, needed to be demolished urgently after Monday's quakes, the strongest of which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.

Source: Xinhua
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